ROSEN's Richard Rosen on How Brand and Direct Can Work Together
The direct people. The brand folks. The sales force. Richard Rosen, in his 2009 book “Convergence Marketing: Combining Brand and Direct for Unprecedented Profits,” speaks to all three audience segments about how best to sell to customers across all media—which includes combining the best of what each camp brings to the table. He presents unique tools, such as his Rosen Velocity Scale, that attempt to create more profit while strengthening brand loyalty.
Just as importantly, Rosen does his best to get each camp to understand convergence marketing from its own professional needs perspectives. He is founder, president and CEO of ROSEN, a global consultancy firm based in Portland, Ore., that specializes in transforming marketing and advertising campaigns into cost-effective business models. His firm has received 28 ECHO Awards, and Rosen has received the Caples Organization’s Andi Emerson Award and the first B-to-B Marketer of the Year Award by the Direct Marketing Association.
Boldt: How does convergence marketing work for a company?
Rosen: It’s got everything to do with mail and all media. Convergence is about taking the very best of the brand builders [within a company] and understanding what the brand truly stands for, and then disseminating throughout the entire organization, down into the creative team, the creative idea of what the brand stands for—which goes far beyond what an art director believed the graphic interpretation of the brand was. Then take the best stuff from the direct marketing folks with their holistic science of changing people’s behavior to move forward in a sales process. Next, take the best of sales with the pipeline (including understanding what A, B, C and D leads are as they come onto the file) and the copy, which can be written to overcome the objection set and goes far beyond simply features and benefits.
Boldt: For which companies do general advertising tactics fail?
Rosen: Let’s go back to the model of traditional advertising that said: “If I build it, you will come.” Purpose and pure awareness will lead to 80 percent preference, then consideration and lastly sales. The model worked for Virgin Atlantic, Nike, Microsoft, Apple, GE. They’d spend an obscene amount of money to make the model work, and then products just had to be parity or better. Nike doesn’t make the best sneakers, but it dominates. But who didn’t it work for? Ninety some odd percentage. They didn’t have enough money.
Direct came in; the silo approach began; better tools were used. Direct made things work better and spread money about.
Boldt: Where does finance fit in?
Rosen: It’s the driver of the whole engine. You take these three brilliant disciplines—in silos—brand, direct and sales, and then you’ve got this powerful discipline called finance. The missing link is the brand side, which has always been, “I can’t measure it fast enough, therefore I don’t know what works, therefore I’m going to put $1 million towards it.” It’s going to be a static budget, and their medium of choice is usually print, TV and radio. With their model, looking at velocity scale, they wouldn’t want to measure it, such as cost per acquisition point or cost per lead.
But adding finance gives you the likes of what Bose does today, what Dell did in the early ’90s and still does to no end: “I’m going to build a brand with medium to high velocity, and I’m going to understand what I’m doing, when I’m doing it, in real time.”
Boldt: So where does direct mail fit in with this?
Rosen: It’s but one medium in this continuum that you can use. When I started out in direct, mail was mostly used to drive the lowest cost per acquired interaction: “We don’t really care what it looks like; we’ve never seen a brand brief, and we really don’t care.”
But not caring has its price, as some brilliant general advertising campaigns lived at great expense but died in part because [they weren’t] accountable in real time in order to make a decision. Plus the direct mail was disconnected and looked horrible. There was no convergence between the two—convergence of accountability in real time to keep a commercial, for example, alive and well.
Boldt: Where can direct learn from brand?
Rosen: The problem with direct mail is it’s always trying to close. Financial mail and insurance always goes for the throat. Just trying to outcompete others on offers. It’s a tiring game, especially for the prospects.
But direct mail can be a brilliant vehicle to go deep and get you into an emotional hook with the copy. However, we as direct mail people have thought very little about the art for many years. We tend to think of copy because copy was king. Today, we need a better balance between copy and art.
Boldt: How important is direct mail copywriting in this convergence model?
Rosen: It’s critical. It should lead. Great headlines are needed to overcome the objection set most of the time. Then we need great copy not written by committee and that keeps the prospect in the package. Email copy? It stinks because they don’t hire good writers. They don’t spend what they need to spend.
Meanwhile, the art needs to be fresh, designed well, with both the direct side and brand side coming through. Even with the brochure, you need to say something. You need to show empathy. Both the copywriter and art director need to work together, in the same vein and at the same time. The art directors control the computer; they are the ones who can make the copy punch.
This article originally appeared in the December 2009 issue of Inside Direct Mail, a sister publication to Target Marketing. To learn more about Inside Direct Mail, visit www.insidedirectmail.com